Akira Toriyama (鳥山 明, Toriyama Akira, born April 5, 1955) is a Japanese manga artist and character designer. He first achieved mainstream recognition for his highly successful manga series Dr. Slump, before going on to create Dragon Ball—his best-known work—and acting as a character designer for several popular video games such as the Dragon Quest series, Chrono Trigger and Blue Dragon. Toriyama is regarded as one of the artists that changed the history of manga, as his works are highly influential and popular, particularly Dragon Ball, which many manga artists cite as a source of inspiration.
He earned the 1981 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga with Dr. Slump, and it went on to sell over 35 million copies in Japan. It was adapted into a successful anime series, with a second anime created in 1997, 13 years after the manga ended. His next series, Dragon Ball, would become one of the most popular and successful manga in the world. Having sold 250–300 million copies worldwide, it is the second best-selling manga of all time and is considered to be one of the main reasons for the period when manga circulation was at its highest in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. Overseas, Dragon Ball's anime adaptations have been more successful than the manga and are credited with boosting anime's popularity in the Western world. In 2019, Toriyama was decorated a Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to the arts.
Akira Toriyama was born in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. He has recalled that when he was in elementary school all of his classmates drew, imitating anime and manga, as a result of not having many forms of entertainment. He believes that he began to advance above everyone else when he started drawing pictures of his friends, and after winning a prize at the local art studio for a picture of One Hundred and One Dalmatians, began to think "art was fun".
Early work and success 1978–2000
Before becoming a manga artist, he worked at an advertising agency in Nagoya designing posters for three years. After quitting his previous job, Toriyama entered the manga industry by submitting a work to an amateur contest in a Jump magazine in order to win the prize money. While it did not win, Kazuhiko Torishima, who would later become his editor, contacted him and gave him encouragement. His debut came later in 1978 with the story Wonder Island, which was published in Weekly Shōnen Jump. However, he did not rise to popularity until the comedy series Dr. Slump, which was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1980 to 1984. It follows the adventures of a perverted professor and his small but super-strong robot Arale. He began the series at age 25 while living at home with his parents, but when the series ended in 1984 he was a "manga superstar". In 1981, Dr. Slump earned him the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen or shōjo manga series of the year. A very successful anime adaptation aired on TV from 1981 to 1986, with a remake series airing from 1997 to 1999. By 2008, the manga had sold over 35 million copies in Japan.
Toriyama's official fan club Akira Toriyama Hozonkai (鳥山明保存会, "Akira Toriyama Preservation Society") was established in 1982. Its newsletters were called Bird Land Press and were sent to members until the club closed in 1987.
In 1984, Weekly Shōnen Jump began serializing Toriyama's Dragon Ball, which became an instant hit. As of 2014, it had sold 159.5 million tankōbon copies in Japan alone, making it Shueisha's second best-selling manga of all time. It began as an adventure/gag manga but later turned into a martial arts fighting series, considered by many to be the "most influential shōnen manga." Dragon Ball was one of the main reasons for the magazine's circulation hitting a record high of 6.53 million copies (1995). The series' success encouraged Toriyama to continue working on it from 1984 to 1995. At the series' end, Toriyama said that he asked everyone involved to let him end the manga, so he could "take some new steps in life." During that 11-year period, he produced 519 chapters that were collected into 42 volumes. Moreover, the success of the manga led to five anime adaptations, several animated movies, numerous video games, and mega-merchandising. The third anime adaptation, Dragon Ball GT, was not based on his manga; however, Toriyama was still involved in coming up with the name and designing the main cast. Aside from its popularity in Japan, Dragon Ball was successful internationally as well, including Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with 250–300 million copies of the manga sold worldwide.
While Toriyama was serializing Dragon Ball weekly, Torishima recruited him to work as character designer for the 1986 role-playing video game Dragon Quest. The artist admitted he was pulled into it without even knowing what an RPG was and that it made his already busy schedule even more hectic, but he was happy to have been a part after enjoying the finished game. Toriyama has continued to work on every installment in the Dragon Quest series. He has also served as the character designer for the Super Famicom RPG Chrono Trigger and for the fighting games Tobal No. 1 and Tobal 2 for the PlayStation.
Toriyama's own studio is called Bird Studio, which is a play on his name; "tori" (鳥) meaning "bird". Toriyama does nearly all of the work at Bird Studio himself, and even when he employed an assistant (until 1995, and only one at a time, which is itself rare for manga artists), the assistant did mostly backgrounds. The studio founded in 1983 has produced occasional one-shots, or stand-alone manga that are not serialized, and some other design work. All of Toriyama's manga after Dragon Ball tend to be short (100–200-page) stories, including Cowa!, Kajika, and Sand Land.
On December 6, 2002, Toriyama made his only promotional appearance in the United States at the launch of Weekly Shōnen Jump's North American counterpart, Shonen Jump, in New York City. Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Sand Land were published in the magazine in the first issue, which also included an in-depth interview with him.
On March 27, 2005, CQ Motors began selling an electric car designed by Toriyama. The one-person QVOLT is part of the company's Choro-Q series of small electric cars, with only 9 being produced. It costs 1,990,000 yen (about $19,000 US), has a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) and is available in 5 colors. Designed to look like an American street rod, the QVOLT has a top and a door that are both opened by pulling a cord. Toriyama stated that the car took over a year to design, "but due to my genius mini-model construction skills, I finally arrived at the end of what was a very emotional journey."
He worked on a 2006 one-shot called Cross Epoch, in cooperation with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda. The story is a short crossover that presents characters from both Dragon Ball and One Piece. Toriyama was the character designer and artist for the 2006 Mistwalker Xbox 360 exclusive RPG Blue Dragon, working with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu, both of whom he had previously worked with on Chrono Trigger. He announced that his help with the making of the Blue Dragon anime might very well be his final work in anime. In his own words, he said:
In 2008, he collaborated with Masakazu Katsura, his good friend and creator of I"s and Zetman, for the Jump SQ one-shot Sachie-chan Good!!. It was later published in North America in the free SJ Alpha Yearbook 2013, which was mailed out to annual subscribers of the digital manga magazine Shonen Jump Alpha in December 2012. The two worked together again in 2009, for the three-chapter one-shot Jiya in Weekly Young Jump.
Avex Trax commissioned Toriyama to draw a portrait of pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki; it was printed on the CD of her 2009 single "Rule/Sparkle", which was used as the theme song to the American live-action Dragonball Evolution film. Also in 2009, Toriyama drew a manga titled Delicious Island's Mr. U for Anjō's Rural Society Project, a nonprofit environmental organization that teaches the importance of agriculture and nature to young children. They originally asked him to do the illustrations for a pamphlet, but Toriyama liked the project and decided to expand it into a story. It is included in a booklet about environmental awareness that is distributed by the Anjō city government.
As part of Weekly Shōnen Jump's "Top of the Super Legend" project, a series of six one-shots by famed Jump artists, Toriyama created Kintoki for its November 15, 2010 issue. It was later released in North America's online manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump on January 28, 2013.
He collaborated with Weekly Shōnen Jump to create a video to raise awareness and support for those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
Return to Dragon Ball: 2013–present
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the series' first theatrical film in 17 years, opened on March 30, 2013 and marks the first time Toriyama has been deeply involved in an animation for the franchise, in this case as early as the screenwriting stages. A special "dual ticket" that can be used to see both Battle of Gods and One Piece Film: Z was created with new art by both Toriyama and Eiichiro Oda.
On March 27, the "Akira Toriyama: The World of Dragon Ball" exhibit opened at the Takashimaya department store in Nihonbashi, garnering 72,000 visitors in its first nineteen days. The exhibit is separated into seven areas. The first provides a look at the series' history, the second shows the 400-plus characters from the series, the third displays Toriyama's manga manuscripts from memorable scenes, the fourth shows special color illustrations, the fifth displays rare Dragon Ball-related materials, the sixth includes design sketches and animation cels from the anime, and the seventh screens Dragon Ball-related videos. It was there until April 15, when it moved to Osaka from April 17 to 23, and ended in Toriyama's native Nagoya from July 27 to September 1.
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Jump, Toriyama launched a new series in its July 13, 2013 issue titled Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Viz Media began serializing it in English in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, beginning just two days later. The final chapter reveals that the story is set before the events of Dragon Ball and features some of its characters.
The follow-up film to Battle of Gods, Resurrection 'F', released on April 18, 2015, features even more contributions from Toriyama, who personally wrote its original script. Toriyama provides the basic story outline and some character designs for Dragon Ball Super, which began serialization in V Jump in June 2015 with an anime counterpart following in July. Although the anime ended in 2018, he continues to provide story ideas for the manga while Toyotarou illustrates it. Dragon Ball Super: Broly, released in theaters on December 14, 2018, continued Toriyama's deep involvement with the films.
Toriyama married his wife Yoshimi Katō (加藤由美) on May 2, 1982. She is a former manga artist from Nagoya under the pen name "Nachi Mikami" (みかみなち), and occasionally helped Toriyama and his assistant on Dr. Slump when they were short on time. They have two children: a son named Sasuke (佐助) born on March 23, 1987, and a daughter born in October 1990. Toriyama lives in his home studio in Kiyosu. He is a well-known recluse, who avoids appearing in public or media.
Toriyama has a love of cars and motorcycles, something he inherited from his father who used to race motorbikes and operated an auto repair business for a brief time, although he does not understand the mechanics himself. The author is an animal lover, having kept many different species of birds, dogs, cats, fish, lizards and bugs as pets since childhood. Some were used as models for characters he created such as Karin and Beerus. Toriyama has had a lifelong passion for plastic models, and has designed several for the Fine Molds brand. He also collected autographs of famous manga artists, having over 30 including Yudetamago and Hisashi Eguchi, a hobby he gave to Peasuke Soramame.
|Awawa World (あわわワールド, Awawa Wārudo)||1977||Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1983 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 5 & 6.|
|Mysterious Rain Jack (謎のレインジャック, Nazo no Rein Jakku)||1978||Unpublished, submission for Monthly Young Jump Award. Printed in 1982 in Toriyama's fan club newsletter, Bird Land Press # 3 & 4.|
|Wonder Island (ワンダー・アイランド, Wandā Airando)||1978||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1978 #52|
|Wonder Island 2 (ワンダー・アイランド2, Wandā Airando Tsū)||1978||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump January 1979 Special Issue|
|Today's Highlight Island (本日のハイライ島, Honjitsu no Hairai-tō)||1979||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump April Special Issue|
|Tomato, Girl Detective (ギャル刑事トマト, Gyaru Deka Tomato)||1979||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump August Special Issue|
|Dr. Slump (Dr. スランプ, Dokutā Suranpu)||1980–1984||236 chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1980 #5/6 - 1984 #39, assembled into 18 tankōbon, reassembled into 9 aizoban in 1990, 9 bunkoban in 1995, and 15 kanzenban in 2006|
|Pola & Roid||1981||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1981 #17; Toriyama's prizewinning entry in the 1981 "Jump Readers' Award" competition|
|Escape||1981||One-shot in Shōnen Jump January 1982 Special Issue|
|Mad Matic||1982||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1982 #12; Toriyama's entry in the 1982 "Jump Readers' Award" competition|
|Pink||1982||One-shot in Fresh Jump December 1982 issue|
|Hetappi Manga Kenkyūjo||1982–1984||1 tankōbon originally serialized in Fresh Jump, drawing lesson co-authored with Akira Sakuma|
|Chobit||1983||2 one-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump and Fresh Jump|
|Dragon Boy (騎竜少年, Doragon Bōi)||1983||2 one-shots in Fresh Jump|
|The Adventure of Tongpoo (トンプー大冒険, Tonpū Dai Bōken)||1983||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.1||1983||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Dragon Ball||1984–1995||519 chapters and one extra chapter in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1984 #51 - 1995 #25, compiled into 42 tankōbon, reassembled into 34 kanzenban in 2002 with an altered ending, and 18 sōshūhen in 2016|
|Mr. Ho (Mr.ホー)||1986||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1986 #49|
|Lady Red||1987||One-shot in Super Jump #2|
|Kennosuke-sama (剣之介さま)||1987||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1987 #38|
|Sonchoh||1987||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump 1988 #05|
|Mamejirō (豆次郎くん, Mamejirō-kun)||1988||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.2||1988||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Clear Skies, Karamaru (空丸くん日本晴れ, Karamaru-kun Nihonbare)||1989||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Rocky||1989||One-shot in Dōjinshi Neko Jū Jisha to Sono Yūjin-tachi (猫十字社の同人誌), a collection of works by different artists.|
|Wolf||1990||One-shot, published in the art book Akira Toriyama: The World|
|Cashman – Saving Soldier (貯金戦士 CASHMAN)||1990–1991||3 one-shots in V Jump|
|Dub & Peter 1||1992–1993||4 one-shots in V Jump|
|Go! Go! Ackman||1993–1994||11 one-shots in V Jump|
|Alien X-Peke (宇宙人ペケ, Uchūjin Peke)||1996||Two chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Tokimecha||1996–1997||Three chapters in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Bubul and the Majin Village (魔人村のBUBUL, Majin Mura no Bubul)||1997||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump; Toriyama's winning entry in the revived "Jump Readers' Cup ’97" competition, and prototype for his series Cowa!|
|Akira Toriyama's Manga Theater Vol.3||1997||1 tankōbon, collects previously published one-shots|
|Cowa!||1997–1998||14 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected in 1 tankōbon|
|Kajika||1998||12 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected in 1 tankōbon|
|Mahimahi the Lungfish (ハイギョのマヒマヒ, Haigyo no Mahimahi)||1999||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Neko Majin||1999–2005||3 one-shots in Weekly Shōnen Jump and 5 one-shots in Monthly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 kanzenban|
|Hyowtam (ヒョータム, Hyōtamu)||2000||One-shot drawn entirely on a computer for E-Jump, a special edition of Weekly Shōnen Jump focusing on electronics.|
|Sand Land||2000||14 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 tankōbon|
|This is the Police Station in front of Dragon Park on Planet Namek (こちらナメック星ドラゴン公園前派出所, Kochira Namekku-sei Dragon Kōen-mae Hashutsujo)||2006||1 chapter of Super Kochikame (超こち亀, Chō Kochikame), Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo and Dragon Ball crossover with Osamu Akimoto for 30th anniversary of Kochikame.|
|Cross Epoch||2006||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump, Dragon Ball and One Piece crossover with Eiichiro Oda|
|Dr. Mashirito – Abale-chan (Dr.MASHIRITO ABALEちゃん)||2007||One-shot in Monthly Shōnen Jump|
|Sachie-chan Good!! (さちえちゃんグー!!, Sachie-chan Gū!!)||2008||One-shot in Jump SQ, art by Masakazu Katsura|
|Delicious Island's Mr. U (おいしい島のウーさま, Oishii Shima no Ū-sama)||2009||One-shot in the pamphlet Saishū Senryaku Biosphere (最終戦略 バイオスフィア) for 2030 Magazine|
|Jiya (JIYA -ジヤ-)||2009–2010||3 chapters in Weekly Young Jump, art by Masakazu Katsura|
|Kintoki (KINTOKI-金目族のトキ-, Kintoki - Kinmezoku no Toki)||2010||One-shot in Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Jaco the Galactic Patrolman||2013||11 chapters serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump, collected into 1 tankōbon|
|Dragon Ball Super||2015–present||Currently serialized in V Jump, art by Toyotarou, collected into 9 tankōbon|
- Akira Toriyama: The World (鳥山明 the world, January 10, 1990)
- Akira Toriyama: The World Special (鳥山明 THE WORLD SPECIAL, September 19, 1990)
- The World of Akira Toriyama: Akira Toriyama Exhibition (鳥山明の世界 AKIRA TORIYAMA EXHIBITION, 1993)
- Dragon Ball Daizenshu: The Complete Illustrations (ドラゴンボール大全集１ COMPLETE ILLUSTRATIONS, Japan: June 20, 1995; North America: October 21, 2008)
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Akira Toriyama Illustrations (ドラゴンクエストモンスターズ 鳥山明イラストレーションズ, December 18, 1996)
- Dragon Quest 25th Anniversary Monster Encyclopedia (ドラゴンクエスト25thアニバーサリー モンスター大図鑑, May 31, 2012)
- Dragon Ball: A Visual History (ドラゴンボール超画集, Japan: May 9, 2013; North America: November 12, 2019)
- Akira Toriyama: Dragon Quest Illustrations (鳥山明 ドラゴンクエスト イラストレーションズ, Japan: May 27, 2016; North America: December 11, 2018)
- Dr. Slump – Arale-chan (1981–1986, television series) – original concept, based on his manga Dr. Slump
- Crusher Joe (1983, film) – designed the MAX 310 space station
- Dragon Ball (1986–1989, television series) – original concept, based on the first half of his manga Dragon Ball
- Kosuke & Rikimaru: The Dragon of Konpei Island (小助さま力丸さま -コンペイ島の竜-, 1988, film) – original concept, script and character designs
- Dragon Quest (1989–1991, television series) – original character designs
- Dragon Ball Z (1989–1996, television series) – original concept, based on the second half of Dragon Ball, title
- Pink: Water Bandit, Rain Bandit (Pink みずドロボウあめドロボウ, Pinku Mizu Dorobō Ame Dorobō, 1990, film) – original concept, based on his manga Pink
- Kennosuke-sama (剣之介さま, 1990, film) – original concept, based on his manga of the same name
- Go! Go! Ackman (1994, film) – original concept, based on his manga of the same name
- Imagination Science World Gulliver Boy (1995, television series) – mechanical designs
- Dragon Ball GT (1996–1997, television series) – character designs, title and logo
- Doctor Slump (1997–1999, television series) – original concept, based on Dr. Slump
- Dr. Slump: Dr. Mashirito – Abale-chan (Dr.SLUMP Dr.マシリト アバレちゃん, Dokutā Suranpu: Doctor Mashirito Abare-chan, 2007, short film) – based on his manga of the same name
- Blue Dragon (2007–2008, television series) – original character designs
- Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! (2008, short film) – original concept, story concept
- Dragon Ball Kai (2009–2011, 2014–2015, television series) – original concept, based on the second half of Dragon Ball.
- Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013, film) - original concept, story concept and character designs
- Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (2015, film) - original concept, screenplay, character designs and title
- Dragon Ball Super (2015–2018, television series) – original concept, story concepts, character designs and title
- Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018, film) - original concept, screenplay, character designs
- Dragon Quest series (1986–present) – character designs
- Dragon Ball: Shenlong no Nazo (1986) – designed several characters including Kuririan (クリリアン)
- Famicom Jump II: Saikyō no Shichinin (1991) – boss monster design
- Chrono Trigger (1995) – character and setting designs. Alongside Toei Animation, he and his studio also created the animated cutscenes for the 1999 PlayStation port.
- Tobal No. 1 (1996) – character designs
- Tobal 2 (1997) – character designs
- Blue Dragon (2006) – character designs
- Blue Dragon Plus (2008) – character designs
- Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow (2009) – character designs and voices the character Toripo, which is modeled after his "Toribot" self-insert
- Chōsoku Henkei Gyrozetter (2012) – designed the Beeman 500SS character
- Dragon Ball FighterZ (2018) – designed the character Android 21
- Dragon Ball Legends (2018) – designed the characters Shallot (シャロット, Sharotto) and Zahha (ザッハ)
- Jump Force (2019) – designed several original characters
- Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (2020) – designed the character Bonyū